ECLIPSES AND WORLD EVENTS
By Roy S. Neuberger
“When you will go to war against your enemies….” (Dvarim 21:10)
War is deviant behavior. If every created being were “sameach b’chelko,” all creation would live in peace. Conflict occurs because people are dissatisfied with their lot. Today there is an “aroma” of conflict and danger throughout the world, which is reflected even in the movement of heavenly bodies. Recently, a solar eclipse was visible over the United States. Chazal discuss possible ominous implications of such events.
In my book, Worldstorm, I discuss various calendar systems. One can distinguish among the cultures of Yishmael (the Moslem Nations), Esav (the Western Nations) and – lehavdil – Am Yisroel on the basis of their respective calendars. The Moslem calendar is based on the moon; the Western calendar is based on the sun, and – lehavdil – the Jewish calendar is based upon the cycles of both moon and sun.
The Moslem calendar is anchored solely to the cycle of the moon. Since twelve lunar months add up to fewer days than a solar year, the months are not stable; they “migrate” through the seasons. Thus the month of Ramadan, for example, can occur in the summer, fall, winter or spring.
The Western (“Gregorian”) calendar is anchored to the sun. In contrast to the Moslem calendar, it is completely “stable.” The months occur at the same season every year. This is the calendar used today in the United States and Europe.
The Jewish calendar is different. Our months are based on the moon, but they are anchored to the cycle of the sun, because Pesach must always fall within the season of Spring. So the calendar is “corrected” seven out of every nineteen years with an additional month of Adar. Our calendar combines flexibility with stability.
It is amazing how these calendar systems mirror the personalities of their respective cultures.
Europeans and Americans, the descendants of Esav, are “sun-people.” They labor in general “tachas ha shemesh… under the sun,” from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. The Romans, their progenitors, were famous for building roads, viaducts, triumphal arches and stadiums, as well as siege machines and other instruments of war. Their descendants, the contemporary Western World, prides itself on its skyscrapers, highways, automobiles, jet planes, rockets and all the material trappings of “advanced” society, including the most terrible instruments of war ever devised. This is the culture which is trying to “tame” the world of nature.
Islamic culture, by contrast, is the culture of the moon. The symbol of Islam is the crescent moon, the symbol of night. Yishmael and his children move stealthily, often in darkness, with faces and bodies covered and hidden. “And he shall be a ‘pe’re adam,’ a wild ass of a man, his hand against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him.” (Beraishis 16:12) Yishmael and his children are primitive. “The intent [of the prophecy] was toward his offspring, that they would become great, dwelling in the wilderness like wild asses, and would have wars with all other peoples.” (Ramban on Beraishis 16:12) On September 11, 2001, Yishmael’s children employed box-cutters, the most primitive of weapons, to destroy the World Trade Center, the Western World’s monumental symbol of world domination and prosperity.
Esav builds by day; Yishmael tears down by night.
The calendar itself demonstrates the unfolding panorama of world history, the primordial forces at work in the worldwide conflict between Yishmael and Esav, the conflict which will culminate during Ikvos Hamoshicha withMilchemes Gog Umagog, the mighty battle that will herald the advent of the Geulah Shelemah. (See Malbim on Yechezkel 32:17)
Chazal tell us that, concerning a solar eclipse, “During the time that the sun is stricken, [it is] a bad siman for non-Jews.” (Sukkah 29a) How does the recent eclipse tie in with this scenario?
The moon is keneged Yishmael; the sun is keneged Esav. During a solar eclipse, the moon – although smaller and weaker – passes in front of the sun, darkening and obscuring it completely. Is this not a reflection of world events today? Rabbi Chaim Vital predicted that, “at the end of days,” we will experience, “the Ishmaelite exile. This … last exile will be the most difficult of all. It is the exile of Ishmael, who is called ‘pe’re adam,’ a wild man.” (Rabbi Chaim Vital, Eitz Hadas Tov, as quoted in The Ishmaelite Exile)
Clearly, Yishmael is at war with Esav worldwide. Only a few days before the eclipse, attacks occurred in Spain in which many people were killed and injured. In the United States, there are ominous signs of dissension, terrible anger among conflicting groups, with no voice of moderation. During this period occurred “the first total solar eclipse whose path of totality stays completely within the United States since (the country was founded in) 1776!” (Space.com)
In this period of instability and conflict, how are we to protect ourselves?
During Kiddush Levana, we dance toward the moon and say, “Just as I dance toward you but cannot touch you, so may none of my enemies be able to touch me for evil.” Regarding this era, Chazal tell us, “In the period preceding the coming of Moshiach … upon what can we rely? Only upon our Father in Heaven!”(Sotah 49a)
Soon, all conflicts will be resolved, and the heavens and the earth will return to a state of peace, as in the beginning of Hashem’s Creation of the universe. Am Yisroel’s calendar demonstrates that the moon and the sun can live together in peace, when “the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun … on the day that Hashem bandages the injury of His people and heals the wound of His blow.” (Yeshiah 30:26) May we see it soon in our days!
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Roy Neuberger, author and public speaker, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2017 by Roy S. Neuberger